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NRF: 166.3 Million People Expected to Shop on Thanksgiving Weekend, Setting New Record

An estimated 166.3 million people plan to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2022, representing 69% of all holiday shoppers, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Analytics. This would be nearly 8 million more people than in 2021 and the highest estimate since NRF began tracking the data in 2017.

Black Friday is once again the top day to shop, with 114.9 million people, 69% of those planning to shop across Thanksgiving weekend, heading out for deals. Among those shoppers 67% plan to visit stores, up from 64% in 2021. Additionally, 38% of all weekend shoppers plan to shop on Cyber Monday.

The top reasons to shop during Thanksgiving weekend are because the deals are too good to pass up (59%); tradition (27%); or simply because it is something to do (22%). Online search is the top source of gift inspiration, at 43%, followed by friends and family at 35% and within a store at 31%.

The top five categories for gift-giving consumers are clothing at 55%, followed by gift cards at 45%, toys at 37%, books/music/movies/video games at 33% and food/candy at 31%. Total gift card spending is expected to reach $28.6 billion, compared with $28.1 billion in 2021. Holiday shoppers plan to purchase between three to four gift cards and spend an average of $51.47 per card. Consumers are most likely to purchase a restaurant (27%), department store (26%) or bank-issued gift card (25%). Another 10% plan to purchase a food delivery service gift card such as DoorDash or Uber Eats. 

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Much like the previous two years, 60% of shoppers already had started browsing and buying for the holidays in early November. This is in line with predictions by industry experts, who noted that promotions with long tails would be a defining aspect of this holiday season.

“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” said Phil Rist, EVP of Strategy at Prosper in a statement. “This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11% a decade ago.”

The NRF expects overall holiday sales during November and December to grow between 6% and 8% compared to 2021, reaching $942.6 billion to $960.4 billion. This is lower than the 13.5% year-over-year growth experienced in 2021 but still well above the average annual increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for much of the gains.

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